Fireless Cookers

Fireless Cookers

Fireless cookers were very popular in the early 1900s to save labor and fuel, rather like our crock pots. Many books of the time contained recipes for them. An early wood bucket with an inner metal pail surrounded by sawdust [a portable insulating pail] is in the Tuskegee Institute collection. A more elaborate example, a two pot fireless cooker with heating soapstones that would be placed above and below each pot, (pictured above) can be seen at the Woodrow Wilson House in D.C. In electric fireless cookers “the current is applied just long enough to bring the food to a proper temperature…then the current automatically shuts off, but the dinner continues to cook without expense…” An interesting link discusses a British tank built during the 1920s & 30s which could carry the fireless cooker with 3 days rations. Cooking time varied. In a 1925 letter: “We prepared our dinner in the morning before breakfast, stowed it away in the electric fireless cooker and at night we set the table and served it.” Recipes from Mitchell’s book generally involved bringing the contents to a boil, placing the pot immediately in the fireless cooker and cooking…stews for 9-12 hrs, applesauce 1-3 hrs, string beans (with salt and baking soda in the water) 6-12 hrs, limas 1 1/2 hrs, and plum pudding 5 hours. She also details how to make fireless cooker or “hay-box”, and a “refrigerating box”, with suggestions for decorating the box for use in the dining room. Types of insulation were soft “hay, straw, paper, wool, mineral wool, excelsior, ground cork, Southern moss, sawdust…”


Frederick, Christine. Meals that cook themselves and cut the costs. New Haven: c1915
Greer, Carlotta. School and Home Cooking
Mitchell, Margaret J. The Fireless Cook Book [New York: 1909], 1913
Various references in books. Hearth Collection


The Fireless Cooker by Dr.Alice Ross
Hay bucket picture c1920
Fireless Cooker Company
Chambers Fireless Gas Range
Copeman Automatic Cooker, c1912
Copeman Electric Stove Company
Electric fireless cooker
The Nation, 1909 … The fireless cooker
The Rains County Leader Texas, 1913
Journal of Home Economics: 1915. Pressure Cooker Versus Fireless Cooker for Home Use
Picture series to make fireless cookers; and types of fireless cookers pics.
Fireless cooker in car. 1923
Letter: c1925. dinner …in the electric
Letter: 1925. electric fireless cooker among other failed machines
Frankfurt Kitchen, a mass-produced, low-priced kitchen, 1927
Britain’s Mk II Medium Tanks
Our First Overland Trip to Colorado
Scouting for Girls: Official Handbook of the Girl Scouts. 1920 – Fireless cooker
Fireless cooker and chifonnear, 1912
Glenwood-Robertshaw AutomatiCook
Cyclopedia of American Agriculture, Bailey. 1908
Haybox, Retained Heat or Fireless Cooker – current use in Malawi, Bolivia…
How to make a food warmer/fireless cooker (hot box) – current use


DC Woodrow Wilson House. Washington, DC
KS Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum. Wichita
MD Belair Mansion. Bowie
NE High Plains Museum. Mc Cook


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